Swartland : The Grape Growing Region

The arable land of the Swartland region is ideally suited for the cultivation of grapes in the bush vine style and the many microclimates enable the production of a wide selection of wines. The end product is much sought after for blending as bush vines produce grapes of excellent quality and flavour.

Vineyards

Today Swartland Winery is one of the leading wineries in South Africa, producing approximately 23 000 tons of grapes per annum. Member farms extend for a 22 km radius in the hills surrounding Malmesbury, covering roughly 3 600 hectares.

Bushvines

The cellar master and viticulturist take a very hands-on approach to grape production. By studying the natural conditions, they assist the contracted wine producers in determining the varieties to plant, test produce throughout the season to determine optimum harvesting time and keep everyone abreast of new developments in the wine industry. Approximately 80% of the vineyards are small bush vines and the average yield per hectare is just 6 tons as opposed to high yield trellised vines, but with close monitoring, the quality of grape is exceptional. Essentially, the drier conditions result in smaller grape berries that have increased levels of concentrated sugar, acid and flavour components, undiluted by excessive irrigation. The good gravel understructure of the soil promotes moisture retention and environmentally friendly farming practices assist in this process. For example, sowing cover crops between the vines during autumn binds the soil and provides protection from the winter rains. Valuable minerals and nutrients are prevented from washing away, and in spring, when the grain dies back, it forms a protective blanket over the soil, further reducing moisture loss during the long hot summers and also curbs the growth of weeds.

Soil Types

Soil types vary from Hutton, Clovelly, Sandy fernwood, and Kroonstad, but Malmesbury Shale dominates, with small patches of granite and Table Mountain sandstone.

Climate

The climate is warm and dry with an average temperature range of 25⁰C-35⁰C and an annual rainfall of between 450 mm and 600 mm.

Regional features and places to visit:

Riverlands Nature Reserve
Contact tel: 022 487 7360

Biking trails
Contact tel: 022 487 1133

Babylonstoren Farm Hiking Trail
Contact tel: 022 482 2179

Golf Course
Contact tel: 022 487 1289

Swartland Agri Info (Tasting centre for wines and other local products)